OTD: Canada buys Canadian portion of Alaska Highway

On today’s date in 1946, the Government of Canada agreed to acquire the Canadian portion of the Alaska Highway, including its telephone systems, buildings and other assets, for $108 million.

According to Bill Wonders’ 1994 book, Alaska Highway Explorer: Place Names Along the Adventure Road, on April 3, 1946, the Canadian government “assumed responsibility for the main highway with Canada, from Mile 83 north of Forth St. John (B.C. maintaining the section to that point) to the Yukon/Alaska border (Mile 1190, and 114 miles/167 km of the Canadian sector of the Haines Cutoff road.”

“These were maintained by first by the Royal Canadian Engineers as the Northwest Highway System,” writes Wonders. “In 1948, the Alaska Highway was opened to the travelling public and since 1964 it has been maintained by the federal Department of Public Works.”

The highway, which measured about 2,450 kilometres in length around the end of the 1940s, originally cost $140 million USD to build.

1967 ALASKA HIGHWAY STAMP

In 1967, mark the Alaska Highway’s 25th anniversary, Canada’s Post Office Department (now Canada Post) featured the highway on an eight-cent stamp (Scott #461) as part of its Centennial definitive series of 1967-71.

Issued on Feb. 8, 1967, the eight-cent Alaska Highway stamp was designed by Rapid Grip and Batten Limited and features a 1943 painting—Alaska Highway between Watson Lake and Nelson—by Alexander Young Jackson. The stamp was printed by the Canadian Bank Note Co., and its depiction of Jackson’s painting was engraved by Allan Alexander Carswell. The stamp’s lettering was engraved by Gordon Mash.

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